Blog M-3 S.P. RR/ U.S. Hwy Age-3 Mystic By Mistake
At age three, my family moved once again: Out of the “one-whammy” traffic frying-pan and into the “double-whammy” fire: from the busiest boulevard in Southern California’s Santa Monica, to the busiest U.S. highway (101) combined with the busiest railroad in Northern California’s Redwood City.
When I was three, I was known by my family nickname: “Literal-Minded Hal:”
“Hal, will you watch that TOAST for me, please?”
“O.K., Mama, I’ll watch that TOASTER.”
“Oh, Hal! — See there? You’ve let that poor toast burn to a crisp! I thought you said you’d watch that toast?”
“I did watch that toaster, Mama.”
In a similar way, at age three I also became “a mystic by mistake.” That is, I got hooked on God due to an age three misunderstanding of my mother’s words. I furthermore then assumed, wrongly, that everyone else was spiritual like me. To my ears, my mother told me that at Sunday School l would actually have a chance to meet, in-person, my Maker!
“Hal, take the bus with your brother so you can KNOW ABOUT nature’s creator.”
“Sure, Mama, who wouldn’t want to MEET their Creator?” This was my same literal heart which in later years led me to hope for a fun “God on vacation” as opposed to the true spelling of a much more boring “God in my vocation.”
Unfortunately, when I and my brother arrived on the church grounds, the church’s mean gate-keepers would not let me in. “Go out and play with the other babies.” They would not let me meet my Maker, even though they did let my brother in. Those gate-keepers, I guessed, felt that we pre-school kids were not good enough to go inside of their fancy church.
Until the ripe age of six, I never did get to enter any church at all. I had still continued to be vexed, during ages three, four, and five, that I could not meet my Maker. Luckily, at age six, a tiny Milford, Utah, village church was too small to have mean gate-keepers. I thereby had a chance to just follow my brother inside. A small number of grownups were seated, heads bowed, on a long, shiny wooden bench. They were reciting what I later called “the one about the bread.” The instant I had entered that church, I could feel my Maker’s warm embrace. My Maker was welcoming me, like His long-lost child! As soon as the adults had finished their reciting, my brother found out from them where we each would go for our classes. Afterwards, my brother and I were walking home. I asked him if we could stop and say “that one about the bread” again. He did not know what I was talking about. (What I was talking about, though, were those amazing words which had enabled me — and surely my brother as well — to receive those warm Maker’s hugs.)
Not long after that, my first-grade Utah Sunday school class taught me that a Bible hero named Peter got regular visits from God, through angels — even behind jail-bars! Our teacher even told us that all we would need to also have Peter-like visits from our Maker’s angels was just to ask our parents how to pray. Guess what? I STILL was assuming that my mom believed that people could meet their Maker, exactly like I had already done in that Milford church.
Guess what? My mom DID explain to me how people pray! At that time, I still was thinking that everyone else including my mom was spiritual like me. My evidence was clear. My mom surely believed in meeting your Maker. My older brother had surely felt God’s same embrace that I had in that tiny church. Furthermore, the people on the radio were all talking of the brotherhood of mankind under the fatherhood of God. (This was in a global honeymoon period, where people were trying to disown hate.)
As a clincher, my first-grade teacher Mrs. Bond taught us that we were surrounded by a wondrous natural world, behind which stood God. Best of all, every month my Grandpa’s friends used to mail to us three brothers an imaginative little magazine called “Wee Wisdom,” published by some very spiritual people called “Unity.”
My mom always encouraged me to recite Wee Wisdom’s little poems for Mrs. Bond. Again, I was always assuming that my family members were all spiritual like me. Finally, in the seventh grade, I learned that my mom and dad believed that religion was only useful for its moral benefits. In my parents’ reasoning, supernatural beliefs were irrelevant to our modern times. Even after I had learned this about my parents, I continued to confide my personal worries with my Maker alone, even though in high school I stopped attending church.
Some writers I was reading claimed that my “crisis prayers” were an act of self-hypnosis. My response to such writers was always like this: “Hey, you scientists, my prayers actually do work. Do not knock it, if you have not tried it. The ways that you scientists try to explain it away are beside the point. You eggheads might worship the Almighty Technical-Label, but I most certainly do not and will not worship technicalities.”
Today, I have gone full-circle back to that same city of Redwood City. I have finally found a Redwood City church which actually lets me meet my Maker.